Album review: JOSEPH WILLIAMS – Denizen Tenant

JOSEPH WILLIAMS – Denizen Tenant

The Players Club/Mascot Records [Release date 26.02.21]

Toto’s Steve Lukather and Joseph Williams both release solo albums on the same date and label, with both artists including a few cover versions on their respective albums. Joining Joseph Williams on his solo album are various musicians with a Toto connection – David Paich, Simon Phillips, Lenny Castro, Nathan East, Leland Sklar, Jeff Babko, oh and Steve Lukather. Legendary session guitarist Mike Landau also guests, along with Joseph’s daughter Hannah Ruick.

Joseph Williams doesn’t stray far from the Toto and West Coast AOR sound you’d expect, but then when you have such an emotive and soulful voice, why change musical style radically? ‘Liberty Man’ is a wonderful song, evoking the classic Toto albums ‘Fahrenheit’ and ‘The Seventh One’. Things take a jazzier slant on the title track and ‘Black Dahlia’ – loving the keys (played by David Paich) and guitar on this one.

The current pandemic provides the basis for ‘The Dream’ and one of the album’s instant highlights. From the backing vocals through to the chorus, a song that deserves to be played on radio and be a hit…maybe in an alternate universe, one where the flying cars and house on Mars mentioned in the lyric exist too. Again the musicianship is top class with another sublime guitar solo (Mr Lukather I presume?).

There are two covers on this album. First up a stunning version of Peter Gabriel’s ‘Don’t Give Up’, where his daughter Hannah takes on the Kate Bush role, tough act to follow but she pulls it off and adds her own spin to the song. The Beatles’ ‘If I Fell’ is a chance to let the vocals take centre stage. One for the headphones to get the full effect of the singing.

Those who love well-crafted West Coast AOR with the odd jazz tinge will find much to enjoy on here. Joseph Williams is on fine form and clearly enjoyed working with the musicians who contributed to this album, making this a real treat to listen to. ****

Review by Jason Ritchie

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